The Michigan Daily...-.-- .--I
Friday, October 10,°1980
By GARY LEVY
Frank D. 'Muddy' Waters is the Rod-
ney Dangerfield of college football
coaches. Despite years and years of
coaching experience on the college
evel, when he was selected to replace
Darryl Rogers at his alma mater,,
Michigan State, people laughed . .. and
laughed and laughed.
He has received little respect as a
coach who would be able to turn around
a mediocre football team that posted a
5-6 won-lost record the year before, lost a
score of pla ers and had no established
quarterback entering into the 1980
He has taken verbal abuse ranging
rom jokes about his nickname to
remarks that he is unqualified to coach
major college football to comments
that he is too old to coach.
And now that the Spartans are off to a
miserable 1-3 start and face another
difficult test Saturday against
Michigan in Ann Arbor, people are
already wondering how much longer
he'll be at Michigan State
57-year-old Spartan boss
"He said that anyone with the last
name of Waters had to be nicknamed
Muddy, and It just kind of stayed with
me," said Waters.
Waters' experience spans 25 years of
coaching small college teams that
compiled a 163-72-7 record. He spent 20
years (1954-1973) as athletic director
and head football -coach at Hillsdale
College, where his teams produced
seven consecutive Michigan Inter-
collegiate Athletic Association cham-
pionships before Hillsdale withdrew
from the league in 1960.
He then left to build a football
program at- Saginaw Valley State
College for 6 years. Despite this vast
experience, people have said he isn't
capable of coaching a major college
However, Waters said that the jump
from small to major college football is
"The X's and O's are the same no
matter what level of football you play
or coach in," said Waters. "It's not
much different. In fact, it's easier
because you have better material to
Waters also said that the actual
coaching at a major college level is
"I used to have to teach the whole
bit-offense and defense," said Waters.
"At Hillsdale, I was the offensive back-
field coach as well as the head coach."
Waters has been criticized because of
his age, too. At 57, and in his first year,
he is the oldest Big Ten coach. But
Waters said a football coach has no age
"I never realized how coaches don't
last that long. I want to be a coach, not
an atheltic director," he said.
"Look at Alonzo Stagg. He coached
for 58 years, and I'm not even that
many years old. I'd like to do the
same," he continued. "I don't know if I
could ever give up football. If I did, I
wouldn't know what I'd do. I'd probably
Another criticism of Waters has been
his system of coaching. He explained
that he hires assistants that share his
coaching philosophies so he lets them
do the actual coaching.
"I try to supervise the whole works.
My biggest part of the team is the whole
team. My job is to be the inspirator."
This system caused one State player,
senior halfback Steve Smith, to
remark, "I don't even think Muddy
knows all the plays. He isn't involved
with the offense. He just stands in the
tower and watches from up there."
However, Waters said he could un-
derstand how a player could think that.
"I hope I know the offensive plays,"
said a laughing Waters. "But I don't
jump in and grab my coaches at time-
outs. It's hard for me, but I'm finding
out how itsworks. I do miss'getting in at the
grass roots, but my assistants are very
Although he lets his staff handle the
field work, Waters still loves his
relationship with the players.
"Things might get a little nasty and if
it does, I'll get out. But I get very close
to the players and I think they respond
to me pretty well,' said Waters.
"It's more than just a teacher-pupil,
relationship-we're friends. And I'd
like to think I've made a hell of a lot of
friends over the years."
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Despite all the criticism, Waters is
not complaining and said he is making
the most of the new experience.
"I'm enjoying the heck out of it," said
the first-year Spartan coach. "I've been
around long enough that I don't take it
(criticism) too seriously. I even think
some of it's funny."
Waters has returned to the scene of
his playing days as an, undergraduate,
having lettered as a fullback from 1946
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For more sports, see pages 12 and 13x
through 1949. He reminisced about his
greatest moment in a Spartan uniform.
"In my first game against Michigan,
they beat us 55-7 and I scored six of the
points on a pass play," recalled Waters.
"I think we caught the defense napping..
Bump Elliot tackled me at the two-yard.
line and I slid into the end zone. But I
think the officials felt sorry for us."
Waters' nickname was tagged on him
in his . playing days by former Spartan
All-American halfback and then back-
field coach John Pingel.
Berlioz: Royal Hunt and Storm
Brahms: Symphony No. '
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